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Raiders move into $19m high-performance centre, then lock doors

Canberra staff will move into the club's new $19 million, state of the art high performance centre on Thursday, and then lock the doors.

The Raiders are the latest NRL outfit to stand down employees with the competition suspended, announcing on Wednesday they were sending their entire administration on leave from Friday, a day after they were scheduled to host the Dragons at GIO Stadium in round three.

The club was set to begin full operation from the recently opened Huawei Raiders Centre next week, the joint ACT-NSW government project that has been years in the making and boasts cryogenic chambers, a hydrotherapy pool and world-class gymnasium.

Ricky Stuart's squad was meant to finally begin training on the facility's new field on Monday, having waited a few weeks for the newly top-seeded turf to settle before they could take to it in footy boots.

Instead they will be doing solo or small group training on personalised programs, while Stuart's coaching staff will be on deck as well for the next month before likely taking unpaid leave from May 1.

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CEO Don Furner said the move to stand down staff and close the club was inevitable in reducing the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that has rocked rugby league at all levels.

"We still don't know when the competition will resume and what that will look like, what type of income that will bring us," Furner said.

"Our revenue depends on games being played, broadcasting revenue, gate, sponsorship, merchandise sales and leagues club support. None of that is there at the moment.

"… We've just moved into this facility here, it costs a lot to run, so we're shutting it down.

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"We're emptying the pools, we're cutting back the ground maintenance, cleaning, regular service you would normally utilise are all being cut back because at the moment we can't afford to run this place.

"It's magnificent. We only opened it three weeks ago, the staff are all moving in today and tomorrow, they're doing the last move from Bruce and that will be their last day in it."

Injured players such as English forward John Bateman will still receive physio treatment at the club's new facilities.

With no definitive time frame on when the Telstra Premiership will return the same goes for the Raiders and their high performance centre.

The closure of seven licensed clubs across the ACT, NSW and Queensland that form the Raiders Group is a "massive" financial blow, Furner making no bones about the fact "they keep us afloat".

Penrith, Parramatta, Canterbury and Newcastle are among NRL rivals also backed by influential leagues clubs, with each in turn reducing their admin and footballing operations to skeleton staffs.

Head coaches Ivan Cleary, Brad Arthur, Dean Pay and Adam O'Brien have all been stood down.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said on Thursday that teams propped up by licensed clubs are facing a potentially bigger hit than privately owned franchises like Manly and the Gold Coast.

Canberra's new high-performance centre.
Canberra's new high-performance centre. ©

"I actually think the clubs with the licensed clubs attached to them, despite them being some of our biggest clubs, they're the most vulnerable," Greenberg said on Fox League.

"(The Sea Eagles and Titans) have access to private ownership, and so ultimately if it gets really dire, private ownership has the ability to help in its own way.

"But some of those licensed clubs, the big ones I'm talking about, who've been big parts of rugby league since its inception through to the NSWRL, they're all in all sorts of financial stress now because they're physically not open and can't trade."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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